“Everyone believes the world’s greatest lie…” says the mysterious old man.
“What is the world’s greatest lie?” the little boy asks.
The old man replies, “It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”
-Paula Coelho, The Alchemist
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? If you were to ask me this question a year ago I would have squirmed in my chair a little and left you with no answer. I was curious what other people would have to say to this question. The majority of them have no idea either!
There are two take-aways for me from us not being able to answer this question:
- We are not alone in being clueless of where we see ourselves in the future and what we desire. So you and I do not have to feel guilty or think we are weirdos for not knowing the answer to this question. Phew, we are still cool! High Five!
- The second take away leads to another question: Why don’t we know what we want?
To answer for my friends and family about this would be presumptuous. I am going to share my own experience of how I came to believe the world’s greatest lie. It comes from the story I told myself about my childhood. Caution: if you find the gritty life stuff boring and don’t want to read about it just skip to the three techniques below.
When I was nine years old I became the man of the house. My mom, my younger sister and I would move across the country from Minnesota to Colorado. Somewhere between that time and the age of twelve my father gave up on us. He started a new family of his own which I believe was better for all of us in the long run. By the time I was 18 I had lived in 16 different homes. There were trade-offs, it was hard to keep track of friends but we were always making new ones. I had fully embraced the responsibility of taking care of my mom and my sister. I imagine myself as one of those cute puppies who has no concept of how little he is but he will bark at you just to let you know he is tough.
In my mid-twenties I bought my first home with my girlfriend who I thought I was going to marry. I felt like I had made it. The security of a mortgage and a girlfriend who wants to start a family. One problem, I wasn’t ready to start a family then. I didn’t know what it was but something in my gut told me that I was not ready for it. So was this really MY dream? Was it because I wanted a home resolve all of that instability that was brought about in my childhood? Was I trying to make my mom proud with a house and the idea of a family? Maybe I was showing my sister that I was the leader and she could do the same? Looking back I think that my dream was in there somewhere but I didn’t see it at the time.
Anyways, my so called dream fell apart. The house was sold, the girlfriend and I broke up, I lost my job. Slightly different versions of this pattern would continue to repeat itself over the next eight years. I wouldn’t trade those experiences of heartache and confusion as they have encouraged me to travel on this path of self discovery. The point of sharing all of that messy stuff is because I realize now that the slippery slope of losing sight of my dreams happened around the age of nine. I have been curious about how to tap back into them.
Why care about your dreams? Well, unless you have no soul, dreams are what life’s all about. I get that someone reading this is going say, “well yeah but he doesn’t have a spouse” or “yeah but he doesn’t have kids” or “yeah but your butt”. Hold onto your “yeah but” for one sec and let me try to connect the dots. Any circumstance we find ourselves in all of us are being dealt challenges in life and we have two choices on how we can respond. Option A: We can chose to consistently react to the cards that are dealt in the same way and continue to repeat patterns. We can find people hiding from their fears in these patterns. Here is where you will have an eternal source for fear. This option we don’t really own our dreams. Option B: We can chose to respond in a direction that is inline with where we want to go in life. This option we are consciously and unconsciously maneuvering through life towards our dreams. Option B requires action and work which frees us from the fear factory we constructed. Yeah, it can suck, be unknown and uncomfortable but at least we are choosing to own our dreams. Option B coincides with the universe providing little clues to help you on your journey.
Here are the 3 Dream Techniques:
1. The writing exercise that freaked me out in a good way more than any other technique was described by Debbie Millman on Tim Ferriss’s podcast. This is a little summary of the process. Write down what your day is going to be like exactly 10 years from today. As you are writing, think about every detail from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed. What smells do you smell in the morning? Who is with you? What does it sound like? Let go of all of the fears that might pop into your head and just write. Most importantly write about how your body feels in that moment. Our bodies tell us so much if we are willing to listen. When you connect the feelings of your dream to your body it starts to become reality. (I was not on shrooms while writing this.)
This technique has had the most impact. Once I started writing and really let go I felt like tapped into a different level of consciousness. The day that I was writing about was so real in fact that I feel like that moment in time already exists for me. Have you seen the movie Arrival? Yeah, something like that but without the aliens.
2. Elle Luna has a beautiful class on the Skillshare platform. Her class taps into a design process that involves curating artifacts that surround you in your life. There are things that inspire us, people that inspire us, and clues to our inner child that she helps shine a light on. Elle Luna is an incredible human and I highly encourage you to read her post on Medium.
This class was referred by a friend who launched her own Etsy store because of the inspiration from this exercise. I felt like I was a kid again investigating for clues in my life while eagerly listening to Elle’s prompts throughout the course. As part of the class I called my mom to ask her what I was into when I was little. She said I was always outside and in the water. As the clues came together the ocean and water were everywhere on my vision board. Hmmm funny that I live in Colorado where there is no water and I feel a little restless. This one is a little more involved but well worth it.
3. For you more goal oriented party people I am going to suggest a technique from Zig Ziglar that we did in Seth Godin’s altMBA program. It’s another writing exercise but with this one you write down multiple goals and dreams that you have. Just start listing them down and try not to let there be any constraints. He has a process of filtering through them that is very helpful. Then he gets into prioritizing them.
It’s been awhile since I have done this one. I remember it being helpful in creating focus. Some of my fellow altMBA alumn swear by this approach. The beauty in all of this is that there is not just one right way!
Here are a couple of my dreams that have come about from the dream techniques. Some of them are in play right now while others are a little further out.
- I want to become a better surfer.
- I want to become a surf photographer.
- I would like to share stories of people that find themselves on the fringes.
- I would like to share stories of how we can help our environment.
- I want to learn from other people around the world what it is like to host people as their guests.
- I would like to start a family.
- I would like to teach yoga.
As stoked as I am to share my dreams with you I would love to hear about your dreams!
Please join me on my journey over the next year as I share my stories of transformation and travels. I hope that sharing these stories provide some comfort as you might see yourself in me, as I see myself in you. (They say something similar to that at the end of my yoga classes and I like it. So I stole it. I mean, borrowed it. Ha!) Much love.